Alexei Romanov, teen-aged heir to a fortune, falls forward suddenly from a Copenhagen train station platform into the path of an oncoming engine. His death is instantaneous.
His younger brother, Michael — unnoticed, unloved, unwanted by his feckless mother and brutal father — dances in his bedroom, mentally reliving the instant he pushed his brother from behind.
He is The MisFit, and this is his story — a rare and chilling look inside the mind of a deeply troubled, pathological eleven-year-old. It is brilliant, and is a story worth savoring for its psychological depth and unmatched writing style.
“Killing’s like a drug,” Michael tells his foster brother, Dimitri a week after murdering Alexei. “Waiting to do it again is hard.”
He and Dimitri have sealed their filial bond with blood and travel the streets of Copenhagen like predatory pack wolves. After stalking a pretty young girl who snubbed them at a pastry shop, they pummel her with rock-hard snowballs and leave her bleeding in the frigid night.
They kick a homeless man until his ribs crack. They knock a pet shop owner unconscious before stealing a little anonymous present for Michael’s mother. It leaves her screaming in hysteria.
To grownups, headmasters, and police officers, they feign innocence. But deep inside each boy there is insouciance bordering on the bizarre. These are multifaceted characters whose profound sense of abandonment leads them to ever more ruthless acts of adolescent outrage.
There is also masterful writing here. Consider, for example this finely turned description of a new housekeeper:
“Emma had the sexual attraction of a broom. A plain silver cross on a tight chain adorned her drab black dress. It fell to her ankles. They were, ironically, thick—as if all her body fat had accumulated above her sturdy black shoes.”
And, there’s this succinct summary of a long pause in one of the parents’ heated discussions:
“The silence rang with the deep resonance of a Tibetan gong.”
Michael and his friend engage in more mischief — large and small — adroitly dodging blame while making those they deem as persecutors pay a heavy price. It could easily be a primer on how to become a skilled and deadly juvenile delinquent.
The book is a short one — though fitting as the start of what can only be a fascinating series featuring the carefully calculating boy and his best friend.
Five-plus stars to The MisFit. If you like your stories dark and deep — yet eminently readable — you’ll love this one.
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